I wondered where the wonder went. Another bottle of wine, another moment gone, carelessly misplaced along with the forgotten tomorrows. I picked at the bandage above my eye.
I thought of the millions of self-help books I had read.
“Allow yourself to go to a different place, a better place, in times of difficulties.”
“Embrace your inner child.”
“Be kind to yourself.”
I don’t want to complete my daily tasks. I am over self-help books. I’m exhausted and feel suffocated in a suffice it to say prison. I try to gasp for breath, and I no longer think that I desire air. My inner child is tired, oh so tired. When I look in the mirror, I can’t be kind to this failure I reflect anymore. I see her suffering. I have no empathy for her and without empathy I can’t pinpoint a reason to be kind. I am positively at the end.
And in fact, it is towards the end of the day and he will return soon.
Everything might have been different if I wasn’t as barren as the Dead Sea. In a society that cherishes – no – worships – youth and vitality, a barren older woman has about as much chance for redemption, for opportunity, chance, as a forgotten warship that never saw battle.
He approaches. I hear the clicking of his dress shoes down the long hallway leading to my space. I don’t have a roommate today. I gave the last one a haircut when she was resting. It resulted in my confinement – albeit happily without a roommate – more diagnoses and pills… “happy” pills that don’t make me “happy.”
His jacket is consistently crisp and white. I wonder how a surgeon stays so clean. He comes in and closes the door. No pleasantries are exchanged.
“Let me check your vitals,” he routinely says.
“I hear I am to be moved?” I say.
“How is your throat? “Your glands are slightly swollen,” he says ignoring my assertion, my statement, my question.
“My glands are permanently swollen,” I insist.
He has taken my hair in one hand and with the other slowly caresses my neck. This may surprise you. You see we are lovers. Pardon me, lovers is a strong word. We are convenient. I don’t have much opportunity, you see. He doesn’t have a great deal of opportunity in this particular wing anyway. He softly kisses me above the eye bandage I mentioned. He is good to me. He smuggles me little screw off airplane size wine bottles. I can then make “happy” cocktail mixes of my own choosing. The nurses and attendants say nothing. My psychiatrist seems to ignore the possibilities. He rather recently came in to my life after the haircut roommate threw a chair at me. This directly caused a contusion to my head, and then necessary stitches, and yes, a surgeon, to make it all look right. So, we met. We co-exist.
As abruptly as you are reading this, very abruptly, I must say, we are now finished. Him and me.
My psychiatrist walked in on us when he was “inspecting” my eye badge. I didn’t realize that she was his wife. I didn’t mean anything by it. I wanted to say sorry. I couldn’t say sorry. I don’t know how to say sorry. All I wanted was a different meal. I wasn’t looking for anybody else’s dinner.
It rained that night. I got up and curled up into the window and listened to the rain hit the window. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. The problem with institutionalization is that once you are institutionalized you own the institutionalization and you in a sense become institutionalized – your heart – your mind – is institutionalized and free thought – if and when it ever existed for you – is forever misplaced and forgotten.
The morning nurse brought a white plastic bag for my belongings. My psychiatrist evidently feels I should leave now (I took it the “move” was being accelerated). To go out into the world without anything. Without any hope, I think. I am scared as I have become institutionalized. I don’t know where to get my lunch.
I am driven out in a van past the trees that I watched for days on end. After driving for miles, we pull up at a brownstone on the outskirts of a city that looks like all the others. I am placed in a new room. At lunch, the haircut woman sits across from me eating a grilled cheese sandwich. And I begin again.
Banner Immage: By Pöllö (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons